Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Rescuing the Paramedic’s Heart, Emily Forbes

Welcome to Bondi!

As the world slowly comes out of the dreadful fog that was 2020 there is the hope that, with vaccinations, we will be able to go about our lives more normally very soon. In Australia we have been relatively lucky and domestic travel is opening up even while our international borders stay closed. As the northern hemisphere sees summer approaching a literary trip to Bondi Beach in Sydney might be something to enjoy.

My latest book is the first in my four-book Bondi Medics series about the Carlson siblings – Lily, Jet, Poppy and Daisy.  This is Poppy’s story.

Excerpt –

CHAPTER ONE

‘Easy? Keep an eye on Backpacker’s Express, I reckon we might have trouble.’

Jet Carlson’s voice came through the radio, catching Ryder’s attention as he stood beside the lifeguard buggy. Jet was up in the circular lifeguard tower that overlooked Bondi Beach, keeping watch over the one-kilometre curve of white sand, issuing updates to the lifeguards on patrol. Ryder reached into the buggy and picked up his binoculars and scanned the beach, looking towards the troublesome rip to the south. He picked out a dark-haired man swimming alone where the first waves were breaking as the Pacific Ocean rolled into the shore.

He picked up the walkie talkie, certain he was looking at the same man Jet had spotted. ‘Copy that, Central, I see him,’ he responded.

He stood by the buggy as he kept his eyes on the swimmer. The water to the man’s left was deceptively calm between two sets of rolling waves. Ryder knew the tide was turning and the calm water indicated a passage of water flowing out to sea. If the man got any closer, he’d be pulled out to sea with the tide.

It was the danger period, after lunch on a hot Sunday. It wasn’t peak season yet; it was only the middle of spring and school hadn’t finished for the year but the beach was still busy. Holiday makers, shift workers and backpackers all flocked to Bondi at any time of the year. The tide was going out and the notorious rip was going to cause grief. Most likely to an unsuspecting tourist. No matter how hard the lifeguards tried it was impossible to get all the beachgoers to swim between the flags. Ryder knew it was sometimes because they didn’t understand English or the dangers or where to swim, at other times they just chose to ignore the lifeguards and the risks, thinking their swimming ability was better than it was or that the warnings were some kind of joke or scaremongering tactics and the treacherous conditions wouldn’t affect them. It didn’t help matters that the main access point to the beach was closest to the dangerous southern end. But no matter what the reason was for swimmers ending up in the wrong place, the lifeguards’ job was to look after them all. The drunk, the ignorant, the stubborn, the unlucky.

Life was precious and Ryder felt a strong sense of responsibility and, at the end of the day, a strong sense of satisfaction in a job well done whether that had been saving a life or just preventing a disaster. Not every day brought an emergency although there was always some excitement but a quiet day on the beach was preferable to one filled with drama. Either way he enjoyed the work. It was interesting and varied and he met people from all over the world and from all walks of life and he reckoned that would hold him in good stead for his future career as a psychologist. If he could cope with the Bondi beachgoers, he could cope with anything.

He hadn’t worked at Bondi for long. It had only been a couple of months since he’d been offered a position and had become one of several lifeguards employed by the local council to patrol the popular beach three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. It was a highly coveted job and usually went to qualified Sydneysiders who had grown up surfing the waves at the local beaches and had years of experience of the conditions. He’d had years of experience as a surfer and as a lifeguard at Cottesloe Beach in Western Australia but that was on the opposite side of the country, on the shores of the Indian Ocean. But the Pacific Ocean was familiar to him – he’d spent his childhood surfing the breaks at Byron Bay on the coast north of Bondi. The ocean on Australia’s east coast had been home to him until one fateful day, just before his eighteenth birthday, when he’d been uprooted from everything that was special to him and moved thousands of kilometres away to the other side of the continent.  

Eventually he’d settled in his new home and when he’d arrived in Bondi, part way through his transcontinental road trip, he hadn’t planned on staying but he’d been offered a temporary position and it had been too good to refuse.

He was happy with temporary, he knew he couldn’t stay forever, he was needed back west, but for the moment this was good. Casual work would allow him to extend his break and make sure he was refreshed and energised when he went home.

It was a perfect situation, he thought as he had a quick glance along the beach, trying to figure out if there was anyone else keeping an eye on the man he had under watch. Was anyone else aware of his position? In situations like this it could be helpful to speak to someone who knew the swimmer. It could help determine how competent they were in the water. But he didn’t really need confirmation, he’d bet his next pay check on the fact that this guy wasn’t a strong swimmer. He could see him pushing off the bottom, not wanting to get out of his depth, but the outgoing tide was already taking him further from the beach and the minute he got washed off the sandbar he’d be in deep water.

As Ryder watched a wave broke over the man’s head, submerging him. That second or two when he went under was long enough to make him lose his footing. As he surfaced, he was swept into the channel and away from the beach.

He was in trouble.

‘Easy?’ Jet’s voice came through the radio, using Ryder’s nick name.

‘I’m on it.’ Ryder leapt out of the buggy, whipped off his distinctive blue lifeguard shirt, grabbed the rescue board from the rack on the side of the all-terrain vehicle and sprinted into the surf. He threw his board in front of him and dived onto it. He paddled strongly out past the small waves that were crashing onto the shore, past the swimmers who were oblivious to the drama unfolding a few metres off the beach, past the break.

He scanned the sea as pulled his board through the water and caught a brief glimpse of the man’s head as it appeared behind a wave before he lost sight of him again. He dug deep, paddling harder, knowing time was of the essence. His shoulder muscles bunched and already he could feel the burn but he was used to that. He was breathing deeply, his lungs straining and he could feel his heart racing but he wouldn’t stop. He was getting close now.

He crested a small wave just in time to see the man go under again.

Two more strokes.

He reached over the side of the board, plunging his arm into the water up to his elbow. He scooped his arm through the water but came up empty. He could see the man’s dark hair. He leaned over further, plunging his whole arm into the ocean, the sea reaching to his armpit, and this time his fingers grabbed hold of the man’s head. He pulled him to the surface by a fistful of hair. He knew it would hurt but having your hair pulled was a small price to pay in exchange for your life.

He dragged the man from the water, holding him by one arm. He wasn’t breathing. Ryder needed to get him securely onto the rescue board and back to shore. The man was of slight build and probably weighed no more than seventy kilograms. Ryder was six foot three inches tall, fit and strong, a muscular ninety kilograms with no excess weight but even so, he strained with the effort of pulling a dead weight out of the water. He grabbed his patient under his armpits and hauled him up, draping him across the board. He pulled his legs out of the ocean and waited to see if he would start breathing on his own.

The man coughed twice, expelling sea water, and began breathing. Now Ryder just had to get him back to the beach.

He got the man balanced, getting him to lie on his stomach in front of him. It was a long paddle back to shore and he didn’t want the board tipping. He didn’t want to lose his patient and have to go through the process of getting him out of the water a second time.

*

Poppy changed into her swimming costume, shorts and a t-shirt as Lily left for work. She’d go to the beach for a quick swim she decided, say hi to her brother and then come back and make a start on dinner.

 She checked her phone for what felt like the hundredth time as she slid her feet into her flip flops. Still nothing. She tossed it back on the bed. She wouldn’t take it to the beach, she wasn’t planning to be gone for long, if Craig called while she was out she’d call him back later.

She left her car parked on the road in front of the house and walked down Edward Street towards the beach. After consecutive six-hour days in the car driving from Brisbane to Sydney she needed to stretch her legs and the fifteen-minute walk to Campbell Parade would help to clear the cobwebs.

She turned onto the pedestrian path and walked along the Promenade past the skate park and the mural wall towards the Lifeguard Tower.

She stopped before she reached the tower and lent on the railing and looked out over the beach. The sun was behind her and the sea shone in the afternoon light. The sand was crisp and white and, despite the fact that it was not yet the summer holidays the beach was busy. She took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the sea air and stood for a moment enjoying the feeling of warm sun on her skin as she watched the water.

The waves were small but she could spot the rips, the deceptive smooth waters between breaking waves. She had years of experience as a surfer, growing up in Byron Bay she and her siblings had learned to surf almost before they could walk, but she could see why the tourists and the locals who weren’t familiar with the ocean could be fooled into thinking the rips were safe spots to swim.

She turned to the south to see if she could pick out Lily’s house perched on the cliff before she spun on her heels and headed for the circular lifeguard tower. She knocked on the blue door and waited, if Jet wasn’t in there someone would be able to tell her where he was.

‘Poppy! You’re here.’ Jet grinned as he swung the door open. His welcoming smile was wide, his perfect teeth white and even in his tanned face. His blonde hair was pulled back into a messy man bun but that was all Poppy had time to absorb before he stepped out of the tower and wrapped her up in a tight hug. He stood well over six feet tall, and even with his slim but muscular athlete’s build he managed to make her feel small. She was five feet seven inches, not short for a girl, but Jet made her feel petite.

He released her and dragged her into the tower where he introduced her to the other lifeguards.

‘Guys, this is my little sister, Poppy. Poppy met the guys – Gibbo, Bluey and Dutchy.’

Poppy smiled at Jet’s use of the guys’ nicknames.

‘Are you going to hang around here for a while?’ he asked as Poppy finished saying hello.

 ‘No, I just wanted to say hi. I’m going to have a swim and then head home. I hear you’re coming for dinner.’

Jet nodded and looked as if he was about to say something else when the radio on the desk crackled into life.

‘Central, this is Easy, we’ve got a problem down here, south of the flags.’

He held up one hand in Poppy’s direction, asking her to wait as he grabbed the radio. ‘Go ahead, Ryder.’

‘The tourist I pulled from Backpacker’s, he’s not looking great. I’m bringing him back to the tower for an assessment.’

Poppy’s ears pricked up as she listened to the exchange. Ryder was an unusual name. She’d only ever known one and he had been Jet’s best friend when they were at high school. He’d also been her first crush. But the Ryder she knew had moved away when he was seventeen, breaking her young, impressionable heart in the process – although she’d kept that to herself – and she hadn’t seen him since.

It couldn’t be him though, could it? Surely Jet would have said something.

‘Ryder?’ she said as Jet put the radio down.

‘Yeah, Ryder Evans, you remember him?’

Of course, she remembered him.

She could feel herself colouring as she thought about the last time she’d seen him. She hoped Jet didn’t notice the blush she could feel creeping up her neck.

She nodded. ‘You never told me he was in Sydney.’

‘Didn’t I?’ Jet shrugged. ‘Probably figured you wouldn’t care, you haven’t seen him for the best part of twelve years,’ he said over his shoulder as he went to open the door to the tower.

He had a point. He wouldn’t think it was important. It wasn’t important really, although that didn’t stop a frisson of nervousness from shooting through her at the thought of seeing him again. She hadn’t thought about him for years, had finally let the idea of him go, yet at the mere mention of his name all the old feelings rose to the surface along with all the memories of how much he’d meant to her teenage self. She could instantly recall all her teenage fantasies and the memories made her blush.

The lifeguard buggy pulled to a stop at the bottom of the metal stairs that led from the sand to the tower and Poppy’s jaw dropped as a lifeguard jumped out. Tall and muscular, tanned and fit.

Was that Ryder?

She managed to close her mouth as she watched him help his patient out of the buggy and up the stairs.

She hung back, out of the way, as Ryder got the man into the tower and onto the treatment plinth. Jet went to assist, instructing Bluey to keep an eye on the beach. Poppy stayed near the desk by the windows, the lifeguards had a job to do and she didn’t want to be a nuisance but staying out of the way also gave her a chance to check Ryder out unobserved. She knew he hadn’t noticed her; he was too focussed on his patient.

The last time she’d seen him there had been a hint of the man he would become, of the man waiting to emerge, but he’d still been a gangly teenager.  He’d been tall but he’d yet to have a fast growth spurt or develop the muscle definition that would come with young adulthood. But all traces of adolescence had disappeared now. Now there was no hiding the man.  And no ignoring the feeling of warmth that was spreading through her belly and into her groin. Poppy leant on the desk, taking the weight off her suddenly shaky legs.

Fortunately Ryder had his back to her and wouldn’t be aware of her reaction but she was very aware of him.

He’d grown even taller and he’d definitely filled out. He’d developed muscles where he hadn’t had them before. He wore only a pair of black boardshorts with “Lifeguard” emblazoned across his hips and she had plenty of opportunity to admire the view of sculpted muscles and smooth tanned skin. His shoulders were broad, his biceps bulging, his waist narrow. He looked fit. He looked healthy.  He looked magnificent.

She ran her gaze up the length of his spine and up his neck. She could see where the knobs of his vertebrae disappeared into his hair. He’d always had amazing hair, dark blond and thick, and at almost twenty-nine years of age it seemed he’d lost none of it.

Her gaze traced the line of his jaw. It was strong and square.  He looked good, even better than she remembered, and she felt another rush of blood to her cheeks as her heart skittered in her chest.

Her hands gripped the edge of the desk as she observed him, keeping her fixed in place and she wondered at the involuntary response. Was she stopping herself from crossing the room? While her rational mind might tell her that Ryder’s unexpected appearance was of no consequence it seemed her body had other ideas. Her palms were clammy and her mouth was dry and she suddenly felt like the sixteen-year-old schoolgirl she’d been when she’d last seen him.

When she had kissed him.

And he had kissed her back.

She knew from talking to her girlfriends that first kisses often weren’t anywhere near as fabulous as they’d dreamed about but the kiss she and Ryder had shared had been everything she’d hoped for and more. It had been the biggest moment of her young life. It had changed her life. 

She’d fallen in love.

First love.

She had only been a teenager but that didn’t make it any less real, any less all encompassing, any less all consuming.

And it hadn’t made it any less painful when he’d walked out of her life.

***

Australia

In Australia this book has been released as a print duo with Meredith Webber’s 103rd (and final) book – amazing!!


UK

USA –

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488074899_rescuing-the-paramedics-heart.html

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess

 

The Army Doc's Secret Princess, UK Aug 2020 large Emily Forbes

Could her royal fling…

…last a lifetime?

Princess Viktoria made a promise: do her duty and marry a duke. But she wants one final adventure first! So she welcomes the freedom that working incognito at the Legion’s Games gives her. There’s only one tall, dark and brooding problem – surgeon and medical team leader Campbell Hamilton. Because the delicious-yet-damaged army doc leaves Viktoria wondering if the adventure she really wants is forever with the man she’s falling for…

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

Two years ago

Campbell’s headphones blocked out most of the engine noise, but he could still hear a faint rhythmic thump-thump as the chopper blades beat the air and he could feel the vibrations as they shuddered through his body. After almost six months he thought he’d be used to the overwhelming assault on his senses—the smell of fumes and dust, the incessant noise, the constant jarring and jolting—but he had yet to get used to the tension. He was always on edge when he was in flight, despite knowing that one of the Australian Army’s best pilots was in control of the aircraft, and he was looking forward to getting back on the ground.

Cam kept his eyes cast down, focusing on his patient. He kept up a one-sided conversation despite the fact that his patient was heavily sedated, and the engine noise would make conversation almost impossible even if he were conscious. He gave him a rundown of his situation—only the positives though. His IV line was running smoothly and his vital signs had stabilised, he told him. He avoided the specifics of his injuries. The soldier was badly wounded, but he didn’t need to be reminded of that. He’d live, at this stage that was the important information, but he’d be getting sent home for a while. Home to Australia. Where he’d have a chance to recover physically, if not mentally.

Cam knew the soldiers would always be haunted by their experiences fighting a war on the other side of the world. Some would cope better than others. He knew he’d have scars too. Mental, not physical. This war wasn’t what he’d anticipated or expected.

Gemma had warned him, but how did you warn someone who had grown up in rural Australia? A land of dust and dirt but safe enough. Hot, and at times desolate, but it had been a different sort of barren. A different sort of danger.

Apart from the snakes and some angry rams or falling off a motorbike or a horse, Cam hadn’t really had anything to worry about. Now, every day was a battle. Here, there was always a chance of getting hit by a bullet, being on the wrong side of an IED, being wounded or killed by enemy fire or even by a civilian on a suicide mission. Life here was stressful.

His job as a medical specialist with the Australian Army meant he was responsible for lives in a country where lives were not highly regarded. Lives here were seen as disposable, which went against everything he believed in and made his job difficult and, at times, impossible. He still had access to First World medical facilities but, more often than not, he was trying to save lives in the middle of a dustbowl, trying to do his best while war raged around him. Gemma had tried to explain it to him but, until he’d seen it with his own eyes, until he’d lived through the experiences she had told him about, he knew he hadn’t understood.

He glanced towards the cockpit to where Gemma sat in the pilot’s seat. As if she had felt his gaze, his fiancée turned and looked back at him and smiled.

Cam was looking forward to getting back to base. He was looking forward to dinner with Gemma, even if it was just in the mess tent. He could pretend for a moment that they were a normal couple, looking forward to making a life together, planning a family. He needed that idea of his future—it was what kept him going on tough days. Gemma was the bright spot in his world. He loved his job but, if he was asked, he’d have to admit he preferred to do his job in the sterile environment of an Australian medical facility. He didn’t mind dust and dirt, he was country born and bred after all, but practising medicine in these conditions was challenging, often unpleasant and definitely not fun.

But no one was interested in his opinion and if he wanted to be with Gemma, this was where she was.

He wondered if he had any chance of convincing her to quit the army and return to Australia. She loved flying but it would be years before she would achieve flight instructor status with the army. Years before she wouldn’t have to fly combat missions. Perhaps she could work privately instead.

He wondered when it would be safe to have that discussion. Would it ever? Could he ask her to give up something she loved? How would he feel if she started to tell him how to live his life or run his career?

He knew he wouldn’t be happy.

He blew her a kiss just as a bright light burst in his peripheral vision.

The chopper lurched as Gemma’s head whipped around and even through the headphones Cam could hear the sound of tearing metal.

The chopper shuddered and he could see Gemma and her co-pilot fighting to keep control as the bird started to spin.

It took him a few seconds to work out what had happened. It felt like an eternity.

They’d been hit.

There was a second explosion, the burst of light so intense that Cam closed his eyes against the glare.

He could feel the chopper spinning wildly. He opened his eyes and saw the ground rushing towards them as the machine fell from the sky.

Black smoke filled the cabin, making Cam’s eyes water. He couldn’t see Gemma. He couldn’t see anything. He lost all sense of space and time.

He threw himself over his patient as the helicopter plummeted. He knew it was a ridiculous gesture. He wasn’t going to be able to protect him. He wasn’t going to be able to save him. The situation was completely out of his control.

There was nothing he could do.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Present day

Campbell’s leg ached and he fought hard against the urge to stand up. The meeting had been long and he was beginning to get restless. He’d never been good at sitting still and these days it was almost impossible. He needed to stand and stretch; prolonged periods of sitting disagreed with him. Irritated his mind and his body. If he sat still his leg complained and his mind wandered. He needed to be moving, he needed to be busy. He wanted to keep his mind occupied. He didn’t want time to dwell. Too much time to think had proven to be difficult.

He stretched his right leg out under the boardroom table as he tried to ease the cramp in his hip. He needed to get in the pool. Swim a few laps. He would prefer to swim a few laps in the ocean, but he knew from experience that he’d fare better in a warm pool. The heated water would ease his aching muscles. It had been two years since the chopper crash and he didn’t need ice baths any more.

It had been twenty-four months since the incident, but he was still adjusting to his new life.

A life as a solitary man.

He brought his attention back to the meeting as Douglas began to wrap it up.

Thank goodness it was almost over. Cam hoped no one had any additional items for discussion. He looked around the table at the ten other men and women, trying to gauge if any of them looked like they had something on their mind. He’d had enough experience with meetings, ward rounds as well as military discussion groups, to know that there was always one person who seemed to delight in dragging meetings on for far too long but today, for once, it appeared as though everyone was just as eager to escape as he was.

He stood up the minute Douglas officially closed the meeting. He stretched, knowing that if he didn’t take a moment to ease the stiffness in his back and leg his limp would be far more pronounced, and he preferred not to draw attention to himself.

He was used to being noticed but he didn’t want to be noticed for the wrong reasons. He knew that was ironic and he’d never say it out loud, not when he was surrounded by so many others with far more severe disabilities and injuries than he had, but he knew that perception was a very personal thing.

‘You okay?’ Doug was beside him.

Cam knew Doug would have noticed his attempt at surreptitious stretching. Doug was one of his closest friends in the service and had been a good support to him during his rehabilitation and recovery phase. His family and friends had helped get him through the past year. He felt he owed it to them to pull through, although there had been times when it had seemed like too much effort, but he was having better days now.

‘I didn’t think it was possible to have this many meetings.’ Cam had made no secret of the fact that he liked to be busy and when he’d agreed to be on this committee he’d imagined that he’d be doing something practical like overseeing the medical facilities and programme for the games, not sitting around talking.

‘We’re almost done,’ Doug said, making an effort to appease him. He knew full well Cam’s opinion about meetings. ‘The Games start next week.’

The countdown was on until the Legion’s Games began, when hundreds of injured veterans from twenty countries around the world would descend on Sydney to compete in a dozen different events across ten days. The Games were the brainchild of Prince Alfred, an army captain himself, and the Games Committee was responsible for the event but, as the host nation, the Australian defence force was heavily involved. It was a massive exercise and the logistics of the Games fell to the Australians, which was how Cam found himself involved.

‘Not much longer and your suffering will all be over,’ Doug added with a smile.

Cam doubted that. Sure, he’d have fewer meetings to attend but his current life was still so far removed from what he’d thought it was going to be; he wasn’t sure that his suffering was ever going to be over.

He’d hoped the Games would be a good distraction, a way to mark the passing of time. He’d expected to be consulted over the details of the medical facilities, but somehow, he’d found himself dragged along to every damn meeting in existence. He tried to be positive. He’d put his hand up for this project after all, but he’d put his hand up for any work that had been offered to him over the past year. Exhaustion was the only way he could get even a half-decent night’s sleep. A few hours when he could shut out the horrors of everything he’d experienced during his tour of duty in the Middle East.

‘Before you go, can I have a word with you about tomorrow’s schedule?’ Doug asked.

‘Don’t tell me there are more meetings—I’m consulting tomorrow and I know my list is pretty full.’

‘I know you’re out at the rehab centre tomorrow; that’s why I need to speak to you. I have a favour to ask. The Prince’s social media manager has arrived in Sydney ahead of the Prince and has asked for a tour of the facilities.’

‘Which facilities?’

‘All of them. But I thought we could start with the old barracks first.’

One of the old inner-city army bases had been repurposed as a rehabilitation facility when the site had needed updating. The active units had been reassigned to a new purpose-built base in the outer suburbs of Sydney and the old base had been upgraded and was now home to the medical facilities, including doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, exercise physiologists, a purpose-built gym and pool for the injured and returned soldiers, along with outdoor sporting facilities. The repurposed base was going to serve as the venue for the majority of the events in the Legion’s Games.

‘You’re out there tomorrow,’ Doug continued. ‘Can they go out there with you?’

‘You want me to babysit the Prince’s—what did you call them—social media manager?’

Doug nodded and sweetened the deal. ‘If you can do me this small favour, I promise I won’t drag you into any meetings for the rest of the week.’

Cam sighed and ran his hand through his thick, dark hair. A day out of the boardroom was preferable to another day of meetings. Even playing tour guide to a stranger would have to be better than that. ‘All right,’ he agreed.

‘Okay, I’ll send you the details,’ Doug said as he took out his phone and tapped away. ‘Can you collect her from her hotel at o-nine hundred hours?’

‘Her?’ he asked as his phone pinged with the incoming email. Prince Alfred had a military background and Cam had, incorrectly it seemed, assumed his social media manager would be a man.

Cam had met the Prince once while he’d been deployed in the Middle East. Once, in the days before the incident. In the days before his life went down the toilet.

‘Yes—’ Doug grinned ‘—see if you can dredge up some of your old charm. Be nice.’

Cam looked at the email on his screen and noted her name, along with the hotel address, with a raised eyebrow. Apparently, Viktoria von Grasburg was staying in one of Sydney’s five-star hotels on the Harbour. He wondered who was paying for that.

‘Sure,’ he said as he sighed and stuck his phone back in his pocket, before massaging his hip subconsciously.

 

*

Viktoria had woken up well before sunrise, unsure whether to blame her excitement or her body clock which still hadn’t adjusted to the Australian time zone. She was on the other side of the world and about to start her first day ‘on the job’. A job that had nothing to do with her being a royal, a princess. Nothing to do with cutting ribbons, shaking hands or making speeches.

She was working for her cousin, the Prince, but no one in Australia actually knew who she was. No one here knew she was a princess. As far as the organisers of the Legion’s Games were concerned she was just running the Prince’s social media campaign.

Freddie had told her no one would be bothered anyway but she hadn’t believed him. She was about to find out.

‘There’s a Dr Campbell Hamilton here to escort you,’ her assistant informed her as she handed over a small bag. ‘I’ve put your phone, a credit card, a make-up purse and your sunglasses in there. Your schedule is on your phone.’

Viktoria took a deep breath to calm her nerves, suddenly realising this was it. She was doing this. Going off to work like a regular person, out into the world.

She took the lift down to Reception. She stepped out, wondering how she would know who to look for, before realising the reception staff would advise her. She looked to the front desk and her attention was caught by a man in army uniform standing near the concierge.

‘Miss von Grasburg?’ he addressed her, and she was momentarily flummoxed. She wasn’t used to being addressed so casually. There was no Your Highness or even ma’am.

No, this was what she wanted, she reminded herself. He knew all he needed to know. She smiled to herself and swallowed her surprise.

She was Miss von Grasburg.

‘Please, call me Viktoria,’ she said as she nodded and held out her hand to shake his.

‘Campbell Hamilton.’

He was tall, over six feet, with thick dark hair which was a little longer than she thought would meet standard army regulations. He looked lean and muscular, fit without being too bulky. He had wide blue-grey eyes and a dimpled chin. He was clean-shaven with a full mouth and she could see a small scar running through his bottom lip. He was handsome. Very handsome.

She wasn’t sure who she had been expecting but she had never imagined this.

His handshake was firm, his skin cool, but she wasn’t prepared for the heat that spread from his fingertips into her hand and up her arm. She managed to maintain her composure even while her skin tingled and flared under his touch.

She waited for him to say it was a pleasure to meet her, but he didn’t. Was that something people only said to be polite?

‘I understand you want to see the Games facilities?’ he said as he released her hand.

She nodded. The power of speech had deserted her momentarily. Dr Campbell Hamilton was tall, dark and handsome and made her feel strangely nervous.

She had an odd sensation that this man was the reason she was here. That he was what she’d come for. She had an overpowering sense that he was going to play an important role in her days here. Or was she just getting caught up in the excitement of the day ahead?

*

‘My car is out the front,’ he said as he turned and began walking towards the exit. He was quite abrupt, and Viktoria was a little thrown. While she had the sense that he was important, that there was some sort of connection between them, he didn’t appear to share her thoughts. She got the impression she had annoyed him. He seemed to wish he was somewhere else. Doing something else. Her bubble of enthusiasm deflated slightly but, refusing to be completely crushed, she followed him outside.

He was standing beside a white SUV, holding the door open for her.

She hesitated.

‘Is there a problem?’ he asked when she made no move to climb in.

Viktoria looked down the driveway and saw Hendrik pulling to a stop.

‘I arranged for Hendrik to drive us,’ she said.

‘Who?’

She gestured towards the black luxury SUV that was now stationary behind Campbell’s car. ‘Hendrik. My driver.’

‘You have a driver?’

‘Oui.’

‘No one said anything about a driver. This is my car. I will be driving.’

Viktoria made a split decision. She didn’t want to irritate him further and she wanted to live like a normal person. She’d let him drive. That would be safe enough, surely? After all, he was a government employee. ‘Do you have some identification?’ she asked.

‘Identification?’ He was frowning.

‘Oui. If you can show Hendrik some identification to verify yourself, I will give him the day off and let you drive me.’ She knew Hendrik wouldn’t be happy, but she’d deal with him later.

‘You’ll let me drive you?’

His tone was frosty, but Viktoria nodded even as she wished they could begin this conversation again. They were not getting off to a great start.

 

*

Cam bit back a sigh and resisted the urge to run his hand through his hair in frustration. He should have taken the meetings. This was going to be a nightmare. They already seemed to be at cross purposes, working off different briefs. He couldn’t care less if she came with him or not, but he had gone out of his way to collect her this morning and he didn’t appreciate finding out that it hadn’t been necessary. He could have easily met her at the barracks and sorted out her credentials and visitor’s clearance then. But he knew he had to be polite. This woman worked for the Prince. It wouldn’t do to get her offside. He suspected she was going to be demanding. She probably had every right to be, but he wished he wasn’t going to be the one who had to meet her demands.

And then she smiled at him.

The photo provided for her clearance documents hadn’t done her justice. It had been a flattering photo—she’d looked attractive—but he’d been mistaken. She wasn’t just pretty; she was absolutely stunning.

Her smile was like the sun coming out and it burnt through the fog that had surrounded his psyche for the past two years. As the fog lifted, he felt as if he could see clearly for the first time in months…and what he saw made him catch his breath.

 

***

 

The Army Doc's Secret Princess, USA Aug 2020 Emily Forbes

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess is available here

and also

Mills&Boon Aus,

Mills&Boon UK

Harlequin USA

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

114 Things to do when you are bored

Emily1.jpg

When my boys were in primary school we had a list on the fridge of suggestions for activities to stop the inevitable school holiday refrain of ‘I’m bored’ or ‘There’s nothing to do.’ I actually think it’s good for kids to get bored and learn to entertain themselves or work out what holds their interest, but a few helpful suggestions never go astray.

We were fortunate to have a large garden, a swimming pool and several pets but there were lots of inside activities too.

Now that we’re finding ourselves housebound, I searched for the list again. It made me smile to remember what my boys were like 10 years ago so I thought I’d share our ideas (over a few posts) for those of you with young kids at home.

If you are still “holidaying at home” to escape the virus I’d love you to share with us how you’ve been passing the time. Let me know in the comments but please keep it G-rated 🙂 🙂

Stay safe and well, Emily

 

Emily2.jpgClimb a tree

Brush Max (the dog)

Go for a swim

Pick up the dog poo!

Collect insects

Make a water slide on the back lawn

Wash mum’s car

Write a story (I wonder where I got that idea)

Read a book  (One of my favourite thigs to do!)

Build with Lego

Bake a cake

Teach Tookie a new word (the talking cockatiel)

Tidy your bedroom (I don’t think they ever went with this option 🙂 )

Play the piano, trumpet or trombone

Make a longer list!! 

One holiday they built a massive city out of Lego, complete with Tookie, the talking cockatiel!

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Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reunited By Their Secret Daughter, Emily Forbes, March 2020

3MedicalMarch

Her three-year-old secret…

…is about to be revealed!

Between her job with Queen Victoria’s Air Ambulance and raising her three-year-old daughter, midwife Chloe Larson’s too busy to find love. Only maybe love has found her… Xander Jameson—the gorgeous Australian doctor she had a fling with and who disappeared without a trace—has joined her team! The attraction is definitely still there. But first, Chloe must tell Xander he’s a father.

 

 

Excerpt

The barman served Chloe’s gin, placing it on the bar. She couldn’t believe Xander had remembered her favourite drink and the idea that he had pleased her.

Xander picked up her glass and put it in front of her. His leg brushed against hers and the contact made her jump. It was nothing really, his knee just brushed the outside of her thigh but she could feel his body heat and her body responded to his touch.

She took a sip of her drink and tried to ignore the fact that his leg was still resting against hers. Sitting at the bar with Xander felt the same but different. Familiar but strange. Things had changed. At least for Chloe. She was no longer young and carefree. She was a single mother with responsibilities. But the chemistry was still there. She was still drawn to him. She longed to touch him properly, to see if her memories were real.

He was still gorgeous. Still a Norse god. His grey eyes still held a trace of melancholy. She’d always attributed that to his divorce but surely that couldn’t still be the case. He’d been divorced almost five years now. He must have put that behind him?

She forced herself to focus on the present. She couldn’t dwell in the past.

‘How long have you been living in Wales?’ she asked when she recovered her power of speech. She was desperate to know where he’d been and what he’d been doing for the past four years but she couldn’t ask such a direct question.

He frowned, his grey eyes cloudy. ‘I don’t live in Wales.’

‘Oh, I thought Rick said you had come down from Wales to cover Eloise’s sick leave.’

‘I’ve been working in Wales with their air ambulance unit but it wasn’t permanent. It was a six-month rotation. I was glad to get out of there to be honest. I didn’t mind Wales but it wasn’t the smartest move, spending winter there. I should have timed it better.’

‘And what are your plans when you finish with us?’ she asked. She needed to find out where he was going next. Did she need to tell him about Lily if he had no plans to stay in England? Was there any point in disrupting everyone’s lives? She and Lily were fine, they’d been fine for years on their own. They didn’t need Xander and he might not need them.

He might not want them.

He might not want her.

The drink he had bought her could be for old time’s sake. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring but that didn’t mean he didn’t have a wife or significant other waiting for him somewhere.

‘I haven’t worked it out yet.’

‘Are you travelling with family?’ she asked as the barman cleared the remnants of Xander’s dinner away.

‘No. It would seem we’re both still single. What are the chances?’

‘Coincidence?’ She said with a smile.

‘I don’t believe in coincidences.’

‘Me either.’

He was holding her gaze and she was lost. She couldn’t think. She could only feel.

He reached for her and the clocks stopped.

He tucked a stray curl behind her ear and Chloe’s knees trembled. ‘It’s been a long time,’ he said as she held her breath. ‘It’s good to see you. Did I mention I’m staying just around the corner?’

The invitation was unspoken but there was no mistaking it. But she couldn’t accept. She had to get home. To her daughter. Their daughter.

‘You did.’

‘Would you like to come back for a coffee?’

Chloe smiled. ‘You know I don’t drink coffee at night.’ She wondered if he remembered that too.

‘I do.’

Her smile got wider. ‘Will you take a raincheck? I’m on an early tomorrow.’

He nodded as she slid off the barstool and picked up her coat. She needed to get out of there while she still could. Before she made a hasty, hormonal decision that she would more than likely regret when her head overtook her heart again.

‘I’ll walk you out to a cab.’

‘It’s ok, I’m taking the Tube.’

Xander shook his head. ‘No, it’s late. That doesn’t sound safe.’

‘I do it all the time after work.’

‘Really?’

She nodded as he held the door for her.

She stopped on the footpath, reluctant to walk away but knowing she had to go. A cab pulled up on the street beside them.

‘Please, let me pay for a cab,’ Xander offered. ‘I’ll feel better.’ He reached out and opened the door, ensuring the cabbie couldn’t drive away, but then he took her hand, holding her back before she could step inside.

She turned to him. Instinctively. Her breath caught in her throat as he stroked the palm of her hand with his thumb. She was pinned by the force of his grey eyes. Held immobile by the intensity of his gaze. She couldn’t breathe. The air was thick with tension. Her mouth was dry, her skin warm, her cheeks flushed. Her heart was beating quickly and her stomach was fluttering.

‘Are you sure you have to go?’

She nodded.

He bent his head until his mouth was next to her ear. His breath was warm on her cheek as he repeated her earlier words back to her. ‘Are you sure you don’t want to find out what happens next?’

She knew what was coming and she was powerless to resist. She didn’t want to resist.  She turned her face towards him and whispered. ‘I know what happens next.’ And then his lips were on hers. Warm, soft. Then harder.

She parted her lips and tasted him. He tasted familiar. He tasted sweet.

Her body remembered his touch. Her skin remembered the softness of his mouth. Her tongue remembered his taste.

The years fell away as the memory of him returned.

Xander’s fingers were on her face, on her bare arms, her skin was on fire and she melted against him as her body responded to his touch. She was aware of nothing else except the sensation of being fully alive. She wanted for nothing except Xander.

One hand was pressed to her spine, holding her close and she could feel the heat of his palm through the thin fabric of her shirt. She felt her nipples harden as she pressed herself against his chest instead as she kissed him back. All her senses came to life and a line of fire spread from her stomach to her groin. She deepened the kiss, wanting to lose herself in Xander.

‘Do you want the cab or not?’

She jumped as the cab driver’s voice interrupted their moment. Her eyes flew open as Xander straightened up. He was studying her face as if committing each of her features to memory.

He smiled as his fingers trailed down the side of her cheek sending a shiver of desire through her. Her heart was racing in her chest and her breaths were shallow.

‘Are you sure you don’t want to come back to my apartment?’

She hesitated. The kiss was wonderful. Magical. She felt as if time had stood still and brought her back to Xander, back into his arms but she couldn’t stay with him.  She had responsibilities.

‘I can’t,’ she said as she stepped back, breaking their connection. ‘You promised me a rain check, remember?’

She waited for him to agree before she made herself get into the taxi. Made herself leave him.

He closed the door and blew her a kiss.

Chloe gave the driver her address but scarcely recalled getting home. Her world suddenly felt full of possibility but she needed to be sensible. She needed to be careful not to get carried away.

Last time she got carried away she’d wound up pregnant.

***

3MedicalMarch

 

Reunited by Their Secret Daughter is available hereMills&BoonAusMills&BoonUK and Harlequin USA

Read a review here https://harlequinjunkie.com/review-reunited-by-their-secret-daughter-by-emily-forbes/

 

London Hospital Midwives quartet

Book 1 — Cinderella and the Surgeon by Scarlet Wilson
Book 2 — Miracle Baby for the Midwife by Tina Beckett
Book 3 — Reunited by Their Secret Daughter by Emily Forbes
Book 4 — A Fling to Steal Her Heart by Sue MacKay

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Start spreading the news…

NYC 2020 Photo by Sam Trotman on Unsplash
Credit: Sam Trotman, Unsplash

After years of planning (and I mean that literally!) I am finally off to New York City!!!  I’m not leaving today, or even soon, but if you’ve been before I want to pick your brains. PLEASE tell me your top 3 things to do, see or eat so I can possibly add them to my list!

Our accommodation is booked so I’m just looking for suggestions for shows, restaurants, bars, shops, museums, sights, tours – anything and everything else basically.

We will have 9 days in NYC – hopefully a reasonable amount of time – and no kids – so your suggestions can be obscure or popular – whatever has stuck in your mind.

We will be there in late August – I know – it’s months away but I’m a little bit excited and I imagine there will be some things I’ll need to book in advance.

My next book is not officially out until March but is available in the UK, USA and here from Feb 24 in Australia. It is Book 3 in the London Hospital Midwives Series (Books 1 & 2 are out now – see below).

BUT I will happily give away a copy to the person who comes up with a trip suggestion for me that I haven’t heard of and/ or considered until now!!

Comment here on the blog or you can view my post on Facebook and I’ll pick a winner.

Top 3 – go for it!

Reunited by their Secret Daughter, Emily Forbes, March 2020

Read the complete London Hospital Midwives series:
Cinderella and the Surgeon by Scarlet Wilson
Miracle Baby for the Midwife by Tina Beckett
Reunited by Their Secret Daughter by Emily Forbes
A Fling to Steal Her Heart by Sue MacKay

And, if you’re in Australia,  Mills&Boon have a bush fire fundraiser on at the moment.

Emily

 

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, December 2019

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, Dec 2019

My new book in time for Christmas 🙂 A taste of the Australian outback in Coober Pedy, South Australia where my hero, Hollywood actor, Oliver Harding has been sent in order to keep him out of trouble. Needless to say – it doesn’t work!

I have some photos of Coober Pedy taken on my recent visit/ research trip on my facebook page if you would like to see more.

Book available here  and Mills&BoonAus plus Mills&BoonUK and Harlequin USA have Black Friday sales (use code BLACKFRIDAY19 at checkout).

 

CHAPTER ONE

Oliver massaged the lump on the side of his head. He’d taken a couple of paracetamol for the dull headache but fortunately he’d escaped serious injury yesterday. The bump on his head and some slight bruising on his shoulder were minor complaints and he had no intention of mentioning those aches and pains. The ATV had taken a battering but could be fixed. The repairs meant a change in the filming schedule but nothing that couldn’t be accommodated. A serious injury to him would have been far more disruptive.

Despite his luck, however, the incident had made George, the director, wary and Oliver had agreed to hand over some of the stunts to the professionals. The movie couldn’t afford for anything to happen to its star and he didn’t want to get a reputation as a difficult actor. George had been good to Oliver; he’d worked with him before and he’d been happy to give him another role when other directors had been reluctant, but Oliver knew that being argumentative, disruptive or inflexible wasn’t a great way to advance a career. He wasn’t stupid, he knew actors were a dime a dozen. He wasn’t irreplaceable. No one was. A reputation as a ladies’ man was one thing; a reputation as being problematic on set was another thing entirely.

He stretched his neck from side to side as he tried to rid himself of the headache that plagued him. The schedule change caused by his accident meant he wasn’t required for filming this morning, but now he was bored. He wandered around the site, knowing that the heat was probably compounding his headache but too restless to stay indoors.

A whole community had been established temporarily in the middle of the desert just for the movie. Transportable huts were set up as the production centre, the canteen, the first-aid centre, lounge areas for the cast and crew, and Oliver, George and the lead actress all had their own motorhome to retreat to. Marquees surrounded the vehicles and more huts provided additional, and much needed, shade. The site was twenty miles out of the remote Australian outback town of Coober Pedy, which itself was over three thousand miles from the next major town or, as the Australians said, almost five hundred kilometres. No matter which way you said it, there was no denying that Coober Pedy was a mighty long way from anywhere else.

He’d been completely unprepared for the strangeness of this remote desert town. He’d imagined a flat, barren landscape but the town had sprung up in an area that was far hillier than he’d expected. The main street was tarred and lined with single-level shops and a few taller buildings, including his hotel, with the houses spreading out from the centre of town and into the hills. Along with regular houses there were also hundreds of dwellings dug into the hillsides. He’d heard that people lived underground to escape the merciless heat but he hadn’t thought about what that meant in terms of the town’s appearance; in effect, it made the town look far more sparsely populated than it actually was.

He knew he should hole up in his trailer and stay out of the heat but he wanted company.

Generators chugged away in the background, providing power for the film set, providing air-conditioning, refrigeration and technology. He was used to having a shower in his trailer but because of water restrictions apparently that was a no-go out here in the Australian desert.

If he moved far enough away from the generators he knew he would hear absolute silence. It should be peaceful, quiet, restful even, and he could understand how some people would find the solitude and the silence soul-restoring, relaxing, but it made him uneasy. He needed more stimulation. He wanted crowds, he wanted noise, he didn’t want a chance to be introspective. He was an extrovert, a performer, and as an extrovert he wanted company. He needed company to energise him and as a performer he needed an audience.

He wasn’t required on set but he decided he’d go and watch the filming anyway. It would kill some time and give him someone to talk to.

He slipped his sunglasses on as he stepped into the heat. Rounding the corner of his trailer, he heard an engine and noticed a dust cloud billowing into the air. He stood in the shade at the corner of his trailer and watched as a car pulled to a stop beside the mess hut. It was an old four-by-four, its brown paintwork covered in red dust, like everything else out here. A haze rose from the bonnet of the car, bringing to mind the story about it being hot enough in Australia to fry an egg in the sun. He believed it.

The car door opened and he waited, his natural curiosity getting the better of him, to see who climbed out.

A woman.

That was unexpected.

She stood and straightened. She was tall, slender, lithe. Her hair was thick and dark and fell just past her shoulders. He watched as she scraped it off her neck and tied it into a loose ponytail, in deference to the heat, he presumed. Her neck was long and swan-like, her limbs long and tanned.

She was stunning and the complete antithesis of what he’d expected, judging from the car she was driving. She reminded him of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

He blinked, making sure it wasn’t the after-effects of the bump to his head causing his imagination to play tricks on him.

She was still there.

She wore a navy and white summer dress, which must have been lined to mid-thigh, but from there down, with the morning sun behind her, the white sections were completely see-through. He wondered if she knew but he didn’t care—her legs were incredible. Magnificent.

Oliver was literally in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing of interest to look at. Until now. The middle of nowhere had just become a far more attractive proposition.

He watched as she walked towards him. Graceful. Ethereal. Sunglasses protected her eyes but her skin was flawless and her lips were full and painted with bright red lipstick. The shade was striking against her olive skin and raven hair.

He’d seen plenty of beautiful woman in his thirty-two years, he was surrounded by them on a daily basis, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen a woman as naturally beautiful. The ones he worked with had all had some help—a scalpel here, an injection there—and he’d swear on his father’s grave, something he hoped he would be able to do sooner rather than later, that she hadn’t had any assistance.

He watched, not moving a muscle, scared that any movement might startle her, might make her shimmer and disappear, mirage-like, into the desert.

Maybe his headache was affecting his thought processes; maybe he’d been out in the sun for too long, or simply in the outback for too long. Other than the cast and crew he’d barely seen another person for days. The hot, dusty streets of Coober Pedy were, for the most part, empty. The locals hunkered down in their underground dwellings to escape the heat, venturing out only briefly and if absolutely necessary, scampering from one building to the subterranean comfort of the next. But perhaps many of the locals looked like this. Perhaps that was the attraction in this desolate, baked and barren desert town.

She had stopped walking as her gaze scanned the buildings, looking for something or someone. Looking lost. His curiosity was piqued. His attention captured.

Her gaze landed on him and she took another step forward. Belatedly he stepped out of the shadows and walked towards her; he’d been so transfixed he’d forgotten to move, forgotten his manners, but he wanted to be the first to offer her assistance.

‘Hello, I’m Oliver; may I help you?’

She stopped and waited as he approached her.

‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’m looking for George Murray.’ Her voice was deep and slightly breathless, without the broad Australian accent that he’d heard so many of the crew speak with. She glanced down at her watch and his eyes followed. Her watch had a large face, with the numbers clearly marked and an obvious hand counting off the seconds. Her fingers were delicate by comparison, long and slender, with short nails lacquered with clear varnish. He was trained to be observant, to watch people’s mannerisms, to listen to their voices, but even so he was aware that he was soaking up everything about this woman. From the colour of her lips and the shine of her hair, to the smooth lustre of her skin and the inflection of her speech. He wanted to be able to picture her perfectly later. She lifted her head. ‘I have an interview with him at eleven.’

‘A job interview?’

She nodded. ‘Of sorts.’

‘Are you going to be working on the film? Are you an extra?’

‘No.’

‘Catering? Publicity?’

‘No and no.’ Her mouth turned up at one corner and he got a glimpse of perfect, even white teeth bordered by those red lips.

He grinned. ‘You’re not going to tell me?’

Her smile widened and he knew she was enjoying the repartee. ‘No, I don’t think I am.’

Two could play at that game. ‘All right, then,’ he shrugged, feigning disinterest, ‘George is out on set but he shouldn’t be long. Filming started early today to try to beat the heat, so they’ll be breaking for lunch soon. Let me show you to his trailer.’ He’d take her to where she needed to go but he wouldn’t leave her.

He bounced lightly up the two steps that led to George’s office and pushed open the heavy metal door. He flicked on the lights and held the door for her. She brushed past him and her breasts lightly grazed his arm but she showed no sign that she’d noticed the contact. She stopped just inside the door and removed her sunglasses, and he caught a trace of her scent—fresh, light and fruity.

He watched as she surveyed the interior. An enormous television screen dominated the wall opposite the desk, which was covered in papers. A laptop sat open amongst the mess. A large fridge with a glass door was tucked into a corner to the left, and a couch was pressed against the opposite wall with two armchairs at right angles to it and a small coffee table in between.

He wondered if this was what she’d expected to see.

‘Have a seat,’ he invited as he waved an arm towards the chairs. She sat but avoided the couch.

‘Can I get you something to drink?’

She nodded and the light bounced off her hair, making it look like silk. ‘A water would be lovely, thank you.’

He grabbed a glass and two bottles of mineral water from the fridge. He twisted the tops off and passed her the glass and a bottle.

‘I’ll be fine waiting here,’ she said as she took the drink from him. ‘You must have something you need to do?’

He shook his head as he sat on the couch. He leant back and rested one foot on his other knee, relaxed, comfortable, approachable, conveying candidness. ‘I’m not busy. The scene they’re filming doesn’t involve me.’

‘You’re an actor?’

He looked carefully at her to gauge if she was joking but her expression was serious. Her mouth looked serious, her red lips full but not moving. But was there a hint of humour in her dark eyes? He couldn’t read her yet. Perhaps she was an anomaly, someone who didn’t immediately recognise him, or maybe he just wasn’t famous out here in the middle of nowhere.

Should he tell her who he was?

No. That could wait. She still hadn’t told him what she was doing here. She’d said she wasn’t publicity but she could be a journalist. He didn’t need more reporters telling stories about him. But if that was the case, surely she would recognise him.

Unless she was a better actor than he was, he was certain she wasn’t a reporter.

He settled for vague. ‘I am,’ he said as the door opened again and George entered the trailer.

‘Kat! Welcome.’ He was beaming. Oliver was surprised; George never looked this pleased to see anyone. George was a little rotund, always in a hurry, and seemed to have a permanent scowl creasing his forehead. Seeing him so delighted to see another person was somewhat disconcerting.

He crossed the room as the woman stood. Kat or Kate, Oliver thought George had said, but he wasn’t quite sure. Oliver stood too; manners that had been instilled in him, growing up as the son of a strict military man, remained automatic.

George greeted her with a kiss and Oliver was more intrigued. There was obviously some history here that he wasn’t privy to. Who was she?

‘I see you’ve met our star, Oliver Harding.’

‘Not formally.’ She turned to him and extended her hand. ‘I’m Katarina Angelis, but call me Kat.’ Her handshake was firm but it was the softness of her skin and the laughter in her eyes that caught Oliver off guard. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

He realised she’d known exactly who he was. Which put him at a disadvantage. He still knew nothing about her. But he did know her name seemed to suit her perfectly. He was sure Katarina meant ‘pure’, and Angelis had to mean ‘heavenly’.

‘The pleasure is all mine,’ he said.

George cleared his throat and Oliver realised he hadn’t let go of Kat’s hand. He also realised he didn’t want to. Beautiful women were everywhere in his world, but there was something more to Kat. Something intriguing. Something different.

Her skin was soft and cool. Flawless. She looked like a desert rose, a surprising beauty in the harshness of the outback, and he found himself transfixed by her scarlet mouth. Her lips brought to mind ripe summer cherries, dark red and juicy. He wondered how they’d taste.

‘If I might give you some advice, my dear,’ George said to Kat as Oliver finally let her hand drop, ‘you should stay away from Oliver.’

‘Hey!’ he protested.

‘You don’t have to worry about me, George,’ Kat replied, ‘I can handle myself.’

George shook his head. ‘You’ve never met anyone like Oliver.’

Kat was looking at him now. Studying him, as if sizing him up and comparing him to George’s assessment. Oliver smiled and shrugged and spread his hands wide, proclaiming his innocence. He had to take it on the chin; he couldn’t remonstrate with George in front of Kat—it would be better to laugh it off. He couldn’t afford to show how she’d affected him. It was safer to return to his usual persona of charm and confidence, of not taking himself or anyone too seriously. She had floored him and he needed to gather his wits and work out what to do about it. About her. But, for now, he’d play along. ‘George is right, Kat, I’m the man your father warned you about.’

She laughed. ‘Don’t go thinking that makes you special. My father is always warning me about men.’

He cocked his head and quirked one eyebrow. This was even better. He had never been one to back away from a challenge.

‘Don’t make me regret hiring you.’ George eyeballed them both. ‘Either of you.’

Oliver laughed; he was used to being told off, but he was surprised to see that Kat was blushing. She looked even more delightful now.

‘I mean it, Oliver— don’t mess with Kat.’ George looked him straight in the eye. ‘There aren’t too many places left for you to run to and if you hurt her you’ll want to start running, believe me.’

So now they were both going to put a challenge to him. Of course, that only served to entice him even more. George could warn him all he liked but Oliver had never been one to steer clear of a challenge. But he knew he had to tread carefully. He couldn’t afford any more scandals.

‘Go and find something to do,’ George told him. ‘I need to talk to Kat.’

Oliver left but he knew it wouldn’t be the last he saw of Kat Angelis. He was glad now that she hadn’t admitted that she recognised him, that she hadn’t said his reputation preceded him. Perhaps she’d have no preconceived ideas about him and he could try to impress her without any rumours or innuendo getting in the way.

He was still none the wiser as to her actual reason for being on set but, if George was hiring her, he’d make sure their paths crossed again. If he was going to be stuck in this town for the next few weeks he might as well have some fun. He knew it was his choice, almost, to be here—George had made him an offer that his publicist thought was too good to refuse—and timing was everything. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy himself. He wouldn’t misbehave, but even if he did he doubted anyone would ever hear about what went on out here. Coober Pedy and the Australian outback seemed to exist in its own little time capsule. It really was a whole other world.

 

 

 

Kat watched on as George shooed Oliver out of his office. Of course she’d recognised him—Oliver Harding was a star of multiple Hollywood blockbusters. He had been the lead actor in several recent box office hits and he played action heroes just as well as he carried romantic leads. He was in the news regularly, if not for his movies then for his off-screen exploits with his leading ladies or other Hollywood ‘It’ girls. Kat may be a small-town girl, living out in the desert in the middle of nowhere, but she had television, magazines, the internet and the local drive-in movie theatre, which showed new movies every Saturday night. Oliver Harding was famous and she would have to be living under a rock not to know who he was. The thought made her smile. She did actually live underground, like so many of the local residents, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know what went on in the rest of the world. Oliver Harding appeared in a new movie every six months, and with a new woman far more frequently. Having met him now, she could understand why. He was handsome on the silver screen but incredibly gorgeous in real life. He had charm, charisma and a twinkle in his bright blue eyes that had made her lose her train of thought on more than one occasion already.

‘I’m serious, Kat,’ George cautioned her again. Had he mistaken her smile to mean she wasn’t paying attention to his warning? ‘I’ve seen that look in his eye before. You really don’t want him to set his sights on you. Stronger women than you have fallen for his charms. He loves the thrill of the chase and he hates to let a pretty girl go unappreciated, but he has a tendency to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him.’

He had a cheeky appeal and amazing eyes and his smile made her stomach tumble, but Kat wasn’t about to succumb to his charm. She’d met charming men before and didn’t intend to be another notch on his bedpost. And she hadn’t been kidding when she’d said she knew how to handle herself. There was no denying Oliver Harding was gorgeous and charming but she was not the type to fall for charming and handsome. Well, that wasn’t technically true but she wasn’t the type to have flings with famous men who were just visiting. That was something irresponsible people did. Spontaneous people. And she’d learnt not to be either of those.

‘Don’t worry about me, George. I really can handle myself. Now, why don’t you explain more about what you need from me?’

She listened as George ran through his ideas. When he finished they made arrangements going forwards before Kat took her copy of the filming schedule and stepped out of the trailer and found Oliver waiting for her.

‘Now are you going to tell me what you’re doing here?’ he asked as he fell into step beside her. His voice was deep and pleasant, his accent neutral. She’d expected more of an American flavour. Had he been taught to tone it down?

‘I live here.’

‘Really? Here?’

She could hear the unspoken question, the one every visitor asked until they got to know Coober Pedy. Why?

She never knew where to start. How did one begin to explain the beauty, the peace, the wildness, the attraction? She loved it here. That didn’t mean she never entertained the idea of travelling the world and seeing other places, but this was home. This was where her family lived. And family was everything.

She had no idea how to explain all of that, so she simply said, ‘Yes, really.’

‘And why do you have a copy of the filming schedule?’

She stopped walking and turned to look at him. She had to look up. She wasn’t short—she was five feet nine inches tall—but still he was several inches taller. ‘Are you always this nosy?’

‘Yes.’ He was smiling.

‘I’m going to be working on the film,’ she said, hoping to surprise him.

‘Doing what?’

‘Keeping you out of trouble,’ she said as she continued towards her car.

‘Trouble is my middle name,’ he laughed.

She didn’t doubt that. She’d only known him for a few minutes and regardless of George’s warning she already had the sense that he was trouble. But she couldn’t help smiling as she said, ‘So I hear.’

Kat reached her car and stretched her hand out to open the door, which she hadn’t bothered locking, but Oliver was faster than she was. He rested his hand on the door frame, preventing her from opening it.

‘And just how exactly do you plan to keep me out of trouble?’ His voice was deep and sexy, perfect for a leading man.

She turned to face him. He was standing close. Her eyes were level with his chest. He was solid—muscular without being beefy, gym-toned. He didn’t look as if he’d done a hard day’s work in his life, and he probably hadn’t, but that didn’t stop him from being handsome. With his chiselled good looks, he could have come straight from the pages of a men’s fashion magazine.

He smelt good. He looked even better.

His blue eyes were piercing, his square jaw clean-shaven. His thick brown hair was cut in a short back and sides, slightly longer on top, like a military-style haircut that had been on holiday for a couple of weeks. She wondered if it was to fit the movie script or if it was how he chose to cut his hair. It suited him. It emphasised his bone structure.

‘I’m your insurance policy,’ she said.

He frowned and raised one eyebrow. She wondered if that came naturally or if he’d cultivated that move. Was it possible to learn how to do that?

‘I’m a paramedic,’ she continued. ‘I’m going to be on set for the stunt work. Just in case.’

She’d expected him to object but he took it in his stride.

‘Good,’ he said simply before he grinned widely. ‘I’ll be seeing plenty of you, then.’

He was so confident, so comfortable. She wondered if he’d ever been told he couldn’t do something. She imagined that if he had he would have chosen to ignore the instruction.

His arm was still outstretched, passing beside her head as he leant against her car. ‘So, Kat, tell me your story.’

‘Why do you want to know?’

She was caught between his chest and the car. She could step out, away from the boundaries he’d imposed, but she didn’t want to. She didn’t feel threatened. He was smiling at her. He looked genuine, friendly, but she needed to remember he was an actor. He was probably trained to smile in a hundred different ways. She remembered George’s warning but she chose to ignore it. Just for a moment. She wanted to see what would happen next. She felt as if she was in a movie moment of her own.

His smile widened, showcasing teeth that were white, even and perfect. His blue eyes sparkled. ‘Because I want to make sure I’m not overstepping any lines when I ask you out.’

He looked like a man who was used to getting his own way and she didn’t doubt that; with women, at least, he probably did. But she did doubt that she was the type of woman he was used to meeting. ‘And what makes you think I’d go out with you?’

‘I didn’t say you would, I’m just letting you know I will ask you to. The choice is completely yours.’

‘What did you have in mind?’ She shouldn’t ask but she wanted to know. She should heed George’s warning and get in her car and drive away but it had been a long time since she’d been asked on a date and she was interested to hear his thoughts. She was interested full stop.

He smiled. ‘I don’t know yet but I’ll think of something.’

There weren’t a lot of options in Coober Pedy and Oliver, not being a local, would know even fewer.

Kat couldn’t remember the last time someone had flirted with her or the last time she’d met anyone she wanted to flirt with. She couldn’t deny she was flattered by the attention. She’d need to be careful. She’d been hurt before; a monumental break-up had left her questioning her own judgement and she’d avoided getting romantically involved ever since. She wanted her own happily-ever-after but she’d been scared to go out to find it. She’d focused instead on her career and her family and it had been a while since she’d even thought about going on a date. George’s warning repeated in her head again but she had no idea if she was going to be able to heed it.

The touch of Oliver’s hand had set her pulse racing and the look in his eye had made her wish, just momentarily, that she was the sort of girl who would take a risk, take a chance.

But that wasn’t her. She’d learnt that taking risks was asking for trouble, and Oliver Harding had trouble written all over him.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Cover love!

Happy 70th Birthday to Harlequin.

I loved looking at all the covers that were posted on this blog last week to celebrate 70 years of Harlequin (and 110 years of Mills & Boon) and I must admit I then got a little side-tracked scrolling through my own. I have been published for 15 years this year and including anthologies, special editions and foreign translations there have been almost too many covers to count but I thought I’d share some of my favourites.The Consultant's Temptation 2004 Amazon

The Consultant’s Temptation has to be one – my first book! IMO it does look a little old-fashioned now, it was 2004!

This is the Australian cover style of The Playboy Firefighter’s Proposal from 2009 and the updated 2014 US version. You’re welcome!A Doctor by Day, USA Nov 14

 

 

Another North American cover from 2014. A Doctor By Day is one of my all-time favourites as it captures the characters and the story so well.

Rescued by the Single Dad is my current English language international release or if you’d prefer it in French 🙂 Un heros au coeur tendre

Hero By Nature, Aust June 2019 v2

And also out now in Australia, Hero By Nature, (a re-release of two books from 2011 and 2014)

Falling for the Single Dad, AUS ebook

I can’t go past my favourite ebook cover and a contender for my favourite cover ever, Falling for the Single Dad!

For something a bit different – Tempted & Tamed is a mini-series, three books about the three Anderson sisters – Scarlett, Ruby and Rose.

Tempted and Tamed 2, AUS, Aug17

I couldn’t choose a favourite English language cover so I picked a few Australian, UK and American ones!

You can find links to these books on my website.

And, finally, my favourite foreign cover (print version) – Breaking Her No Dates Rule – thank you Norway!

Breaking her no dates rule, Norway, May 17

Harlequin Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) are getting in on the celebrations too – it’s their 40th birthday this year – and I also have a book out to celebrate that!

2019 40 years of HQN Norway Georgie's BGW

I would love to know if you have a favourite out of these covers or a favourite style.

Do you prefer to see the hero or heroine on the cover? Or the hero and heroine together? Or children if they feature in the story?

Happy Reading, Emily x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Celebrating milestones

After a pretty awful end to 2018 I was glad to have some milestones to celebrate this year.

On New Year’s Day we left for Malaysia and Singapore to celebrate our youngest son’s 18st birthday.

 

@Universal Studios – What a difference 7 years makes!

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Birthday Dessert at Central Perk, Singapore, themed “Friends” café!

 

We arrived home, threw a load of washing in the machine and repacked for a few days at Port Willunga to celebrate my Mum’s 80th Birthday. (Here with all her grandchildren.)

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Then it was off to Melbourne for a friend’s 50th – there have been a LOT of 50th birthdays over the past few years but they have been huge fun, lots of dancing and reminiscing along with a few dancing injuries (one broken foot and one torn knee cartilage – luckily neither of them were mine 🙂  ) – I think it’s a case of the mind is willing but the flesh isn’t!

Dame's 50th 2

And then my 30th Mills & Boon novel Rescued By The Single Dad  has been released. Can’t quite believe I’ve written 30 books! I’m very excited.

 

Falling in love…with her rescuer!

When paramedic Patrick Reeves discovers Dr Charli Lawson trapped after a landslide, he holds her hand until she’s freed. They will never forget the connection of that night, but Patrick is a single dad with a broken heart, and Charli’s already lost everything. She tries to stay away but he slips past her defences. Could her courageous but scarred rescuer – and his adorable three-year-old – help heal Charli’s lonely heart?

You can read an excerpt here

Still to come – a son’s 21st, another best friend’s 50th and a wedding anniversary  – oh, and a looming deadline for my next book!!!

What are you looking forward to?

Emily

Rescued by The Single Dad, Harlequin, North America

Rescued By The Single Dad, Mills & Boon UK

Rescued By The Single Dad, M&B Australia

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Hot Docs!

Excerpt – Nurses in the City

 

Amy and I are at it again with another duo set in Sydney.

Reunited with Her Brooding Surgeon is Grace’s story:

Grace Gibson loves her job as a transplant coordinator at a Sydney hospital but she’s blindsided when a ghost from her past reappears. Devastatingly handsome surgeon, Marcus Washington, was her childhood neighbour – but he’s all man now and hiding a wealth of pain. Will Grace be the woman to break down his walls and claim his heart?

and Tempted by Mr Off-Limits introduces Grace’s brother, Hamish:

Lola Fraser knows better than to fall for her best friend’s brother, paramedic Hamish Gibson. Living together whilst he’s training could get awkward—fast! But as they work together on a heartrending case they can’t resist the temptation to take their minds off work. Surely one night will be enough…until they discover it isn’t!

Read on for an excerpt of Reunited with Her Brooding Surgeon

Grace followed Marcus out of the room. His strides were long and Grace found her gaze drawn to his hips. He’d removed his suit jacket leaving the shape of his buttocks under his pants clearly defined as his legs ate up the length of the corridor. Grace forced herself to keep her eyes lifted, she didn’t want to be caught ogling him or running into something because her attention was elsewhere.

She got the feeling he was trying to put as much distance between them as possible. But she had no idea why. Her curiosity got the better of her and she hurried after him. She wanted to know what his issue was. Why he was so abrupt with her. She didn’t think she’d done anything to put him off-side yet his aloofness was definitely directed at her. She had to admit he was an empathetic doctor with a good bedside manner and maybe she’d just have to be satisfied with that. But she still wanted some answers.

‘Dr Washington!’

He stopped and turned towards her.

‘Have I done something to upset you?’ She asked as she caught up to him.

‘No.’

Grace waited for him to elaborate but he was silent. Man, he could be the poster boy for the strong, silent type.

Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, she thought as she said. ‘Do you remember me?’

Marcus looked down at the petite redhead standing in front of him. She had her hands on her hips and looked as if she’d like to tear him to shreds. ‘What do you mean? Of course I do,’ he replied, attempting to use his most reasonable tone in an attempt to calm her down. ‘We were just in Connie’s room and I only met you a few hours ago.’

‘I meant from before.’

***

He watched her with his steady gaze but said nothing. He wasn’t going to admit to anything. Not until he knew what she wanted. She reminded him of a firecracker about to explode.

‘You grew up in Toowoomba,’ she said. It was apparent she wasn’t going to be intimidated and she wasn’t asking him a question. She looked small and easy to handle but, just like a firecracker, he got the impression that once something set her off, you’d know all about it and there’d be nowhere to hide.  ‘I lived around the corner from you. You were at school with my brother, Lachlan.’

It was obvious she knew who he was. He’d suspected as much. He had recognised her too. Well, not her as such, but her hair matched with her name was a giveaway. Her golden copper locks were distinctive. He hadn’t wanted to think she was the same person even though it was blatantly clear, just as it was clear she remembered him.

He cursed his luck. ‘Was I?’

He knew he was being bullish but he couldn’t help it. He’d spent twenty years trying to get away from his past. Twenty years spent reinventing himself and wiping away all traces of his childhood. He hadn’t been back to Toowoomba in all that time and he’d even debated the wisdom of returning to the east coast for this three-month stint but the opportunity of this experience at the Kirribilli General Hospital had been too good to refuse. Guilt and opportunity had brought him back. And now it seemed it was about to make him pay.

He hadn’t expected to run into any one from his past and he certainly wouldn’t have expected to be remembered. He didn’t want to remember who he had been and the life he’d lived then. He didn’t want to think about it and he definitely didn’t want to talk about it. So, he stayed silent, refusing to incriminate himself by admitting any recollection. He couldn’t admit to Grace that he had lied. That he had recognised her.

‘I guess I look a bit different,’ Grace admitted when he stayed mute. ‘I must have been about seven the last time I would have seen you.’

Was there are a question in there? Was she wondering why he’d never come back? Had she even noticed?

He wasn’t going to respond to vague insinuations but she was right. She looked nothing like he remembered. He remembered her brother and he remembered Grace as Lachlan’s little sister with skinned knees and missing teeth. The only thing that remained of the seven-year-old she’d once been was her hair. Her fiery copper locks hung in loose waves over her shoulders, its rich colour bright and vibrant against the contrast of her navy uniform. He’d hadn’t seen a colour like it since leaving Toowoomba.

But everything else about her was different. She no longer looked like anyone’s kid sister. She had filled out in all the right places. She was tiny, a good foot shorter than his six feet two inches, but her proportions were perfect. Her shirt was tucked into navy trousers, pants which would have been unflattering on most figures, yet his eye was drawn to her small waist, the swell of her breasts and the curve of her hips. He felt an unexpected surge of lust. Bloody hell, that was inappropriate. He lifted his head and met her amber eyes. They blazed at him. She appeared to have the fiery temper to match her hair but what was getting her so riled up? Had she noticed his inappropriate once-over? He needed to douse the flames of her temper, he needed to make sure he didn’t set her off completely. Something told him there would be no stopping her if he did that.

Or maybe he should take up the challenge he could see in her eyes. She gave off an air of not being one to back down. Of having the courage of her convictions. That didn’t appear to have changed. He remembered more about her than he cared to admit. She’d been loud and boisterous, full of energy, he’d always known when she was around and he suspected that hadn’t changed in twenty years. He wondered what had.

The idea of putting a flame to her wick just to see what would happen was strangely exciting but he resisted the temptation. He didn’t want to bring unnecessary attention to the two of them. He didn’t want anyone asking awkward questions. Going under the radar was always best. He’d learnt that from experience.

But what did she want? What was she after? What did she remember of him? What secrets could she spill?

He hoped not many.

As a child he’d been quiet, shy and nervous. The complete anti-thesis to Grace. He’d been nervous around the kids at school and nervous around his father. His life had been unpredictable and devoid of routine but it hadn’t been until he was at boarding school as a teenager that he’d realised that not everyone’s lives were like that. He’d never experienced anything different. Most of the time he just tried to get from morning to evening without being noticed. It seemed his presence irritated people – his classmates and his father – and he was never sure about what was going to happen, how people were going to react, although more often than not it was unfavourably. He’d learnt to keep his head down, to try to be inconspicuous, but that was never easy when he looked so different.

Thanks to his Caribbean mother he wasn’t white but he wasn’t indigenous either. He was part black but not the black that was common in Toowoomba. There wasn’t another person in the town who had the same genetic mix as him. Everywhere else in the world he would have been called African -American, even though he wasn’t American or African, but in rural Australia that wasn’t a common term and he was called any number of other things and none of them had been complimentary. And if that wasn’t enough to make him stand out then his family history and his unorthodox father certainly made sure that everyone singled him out.

His mother had disappeared when he was six leaving him behind with a father who had chosen to develop a relationship with alcohol instead of with his son. His young life had been full of disappointments and he’d learnt early on not to ask for or expect much. He’d learnt early on that the only person he could count on not to let him down was himself.

He’d worked hard to escape a miserable childhood and to avoid all memories of his past. He’d worked hard over many years to forget who he was and where he came from.  He didn’t want to be remembered as that boy. That wasn’t him anymore.

And he didn’t want anyone to remind him.

Which made Grace the last person he wanted to see.

 

You can buy these books here

Reunited with her Brooding Surgeon

Nurses in the City UK

Nurses in the City USA

 

Happy Reading,

Emily and Amy

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

And The Winner Is…

Sydney!!!

DSC03368

August is definitely Romance Writers’ conference time and next up is the Australian  conference which is in Sydney this year.

I know lots of authors and readers have already landed but I will be there in time for the Harlequin author afternoon and the cocktail party! I have checked in on-line for my flight and am about to start packing – as always culling shoes is the hardest part 🙂  My few days involves a cocktail party (or two), a dinner, meetings, an interview, lots of walking and an afternoon sailing on the harbour. I’m not sure that four pairs of shoes will be enough!

I’ll shortly be celebrating the release of my latest book, out in September (October in Australia), which is set in Sydney.  Reunited with Her Brooding Surgeon, is one of a duo with Amy Andrews, Tempted by Mr Off-Limits. Our Nurses in the City books tell the stories of siblings, Grace and Hamish, and their search for love and happiness.

In the meantime, on behalf of all the medical authors I want to wish Fiona Lowe ‘GOOD LUCK’ for the awards ceremony. Her book, Daughter of Mine, has been nominated for the Romantic Book of the Year. Daughter-of-Mine-Cover-Fiona-Lowe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will you be in Sydney for the conference? Have you got a costume for the Tuxedo and Tiaras cocktail party? And how many pairs of shoes have you packed!? Let me know in the comments,

See you soon, Emily xx